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Celebrity Nail Guru Deborah Lippmann Reveals the Secret to a Red Carpet-Ready Manicure

It’s all about the prep.


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Deborah Lippmann is the woman responsible for making sure that everyone from models at fashion week to actresses during award season are ready to be photographed, down to the tips of their fingers. On Sunday night, the Hollywood manicurist and beloved nail guru was in Los Angeles with Arrival star and W cover girl Amy Adams to do all the finishing touches before the 2017 Golden Globes. But, as it turns out, a red carpet-approved manicure isn’t just about the polish–it’s about being prepared. “Cuticle care is so, so important — especially since the weather is a bit cooler and hands tend to be dryer,” she says. Here, Lippman reveals all her tips for an A-list manicure.

What’s your best tip to keep nails strong and healthy? Stop using them as tools! Use your fingers, not your nails.

What are your go-to products for nail-prep? There are several main steps that you have to follow for a long-lasting manicure: o Cleanse & Prep. Use The Stripper to remove polish and 2 Second Nail Primer before applying a base coat. o Exfoliate & Shape. Shape with the Eco-File and then exfoliate, buff and shine with the 4-sided Smooth Operator. o Perfect Cuticles. Cuticle care is so, so important. Soften and exfoliate with Cuticle Remover and use a pusher to push the back. Hydrating cuticles is so important and I love my Cuticle Oil or The Cure.

What is your go-to shade for a red carpet manicure look? Baby Love or Tiny Dancer from my collection.

Have you ever had to rush a last-minute manicure before a red carpet event? Oh my gosh, yes! But the number one rule is no matter how stressed I feel or how late I’m running, it’s important to cover that up, you don’t ever want your client to feel your stress because it’s her day and her moment. When it comes to saving time, for a pedicure, I may skip buffing the heels, especially if she’s wearing a long dress.

Golden Globes 2017: See What Everyone Wore on the Red Carpet

Natalie Portman in vintage Prada and Tiffany’s jewelry at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Millie Bobby Brown in Jenny Packham at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Blake Lively in Atelier Versace at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Helen Lasichanh and Pharrell Williams at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Winona Ryder in Viktor & Rolf and Fred Leighton jewelry at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Naomi Campbell in Atelier Versace at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Drew Barrymore in Monique Lhullier and Harry Winston jewelry at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Janelle Monae in custom Armani and Forevermark Diamonds at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Nicole Kidman in Alexander McQueen and Fred Leighton jewelry at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Felicity Jones in Gucci at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Brie Larson in Rodarte and Forevermark Diamonds at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Emily Ratajkowski in Reem Acra at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Amy Adams in Tom Ford at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Sarah Paulson in Marc Jacobs at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Reese Witherspoon in Versace at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Lily Collins in Zuhair Murad at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp and Gaten Matarazzo at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Kerry Washington in Dolce & Gabbana at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Jessica Chastain in Prada at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Hailee Steinfeld in Forevermark Diamonds at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Issa Rae at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Natalie Morales at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Sistine, Scarlet, and Sophie Stallone at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Ruth Negga in Louis Vuitton and Gemfields x FredLeighton jewelry at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Mandy Moore in Naeem Khan at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Evan Rachel Wood in Altuzarra at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Thandie Newton in Monse and Harry Winston jewelry at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Priyanka Chopra at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 08: 74th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS — Pictured: Actress/producer Viola Davis arrives to the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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How do you pair the nail with an overall look for a red carpet event like the Golden Globes or the Oscars? On the red carpet, it’s a very collaborative effort and really depends on the dress. As the manicurist, I like to listen to the hair stylist and makeup artist to hear what they’re planning. If the hair and makeup are very strong, then a nude nail may be best, and vice versa. I will start pulling colors that I think will work, and I’ll paint different nails with different polishes and discuss ideas with the rest of the team. It’s all about having a group of incredibly talented and creative people who are willing to alter their vision to agree on what’s best for our client.

How do you prepare for a red carpet event differently from a fashion show? The preparation is nearly the same, but for New York Fashion Week, you have a test a few days before the show where you determine the look with the designer. The test can be a bit stressful, but you’ll know going into the show, exactly what look you and the team need to achieve. Whereas with the red carpet, you may not know much about the celeb’s look prior to arriving in their room that day.

Should clients take a break from wearing polish between manicures? Your nails do not breathe, so it’s not necessary. Much like your hair, they’re made of dead cells. Some people may feel better by starting fresh and not wearing polish for a while, and if that makes you happy, there’s nothing wrong with it!

What’s your secret for a long-lasting manicure? Prime it! Most women don’t think to use a primer before applying their base coat – or may not even use a base coat! Natural residue and oils on the nail plate can keep the base coat from adhering properly, which can lead to chipping of the nail lacquer. Primers help to remove dirt, oil and residue while adding protein.

How long do you wait in between coats? Patience is a virtue! Wait two minutes in between each so that they’re able to fully dry.

What is your current nail obsession? Since the weather is a bit cooler and hands tend to be dryer, I’m obsessed with my new exfoliating scrub, Marshmallow. It smells incredible and leaves hands baby smooth.

Watch Amy Adams reveal her cinematic crush: